Since the advent of digital video cameras, the files they create have always caused a workflow challenge for transferring, organizing and archiving. And if you’re like us, our original and transcoded files end up a mess, kind of like our desks. Now we’ve got data management help in the form of Red Giant’s BulletProof software.
If you’re a camera operator or editor, or anything between, this new software will help you import, organize, review, back-up and even color your footage before export. All in one place.
Red Giant has given us a tool to take the hassle out of the workflow between the camera and the editor and save precious time in the entire process. The software provides a five step process for helping you through your data management workflow. Let’s go over each of the steps in the process that is provided for you in BulletProof.
When you open BulletProof, the first step in the process is to import your footage. You’ll see on the left a list of drives that are mounted, allowing you to choose where your footage is coming from. In fact, this left to right paradigm is present in every step allowing you to visualize the workflow. Once a source for your footage is selected, you’ll see thumbnails in the next column. You can import all or choose to select only specific files. At this point you can create a catalog and a folder on your internal and external hard drive to import to, even applying presets for color, metadata and keywording. In addition, you can choose to back up your footage to another drive, with all your files validated as perfect duplicates, bit for bit. This data management feature is handy as it simplifies the process and reminds us from the get-go that we need to back up this ever-important media. The main limitation of the import section is the lack of support for many cameras used these days. The software will not reliably work with files in formats such as AVCHD which come out of our Sony NEX-FS700. Word from Red Giant is that support will be coming soon.
Organize and Review
Once imported, it’s time to organize your files. This step allows you to create subfolders for your media based on any criteria like location, subject matter, camera angle, etc. You can also rate, label or flag the footage. The reviewing process is integrated into the organization process. As you organize your files, you can double-click on a clip to see it in the large review window. You’re given standard playback controls as well as a chance to create in and out points and markers, which get transferred to your editing software.
The data management feature is handy as it simplifies the process and reminds us from the get-go that we need to back up this ever-important media.
Another feature of the organizing review steps is the ability to create a playlist. Our assumption when we started was that a playlist would allow you to export an EDL or XML with some basic editing already done. But this is not the case in the current version. The playlist does allow the user to playback files in a basic sequence with in and out points applied to each clip. It also gives the user an easy way to select prepared clips and export them in a batch function.
For us the refine step is one of the great features of this software. You can actually apply white balance, Colorista 3-Way color correction, curves, and a LUT to your footage. If you’re exporting your footage to a new format, the software will automatically apply these adjustments to your clips if you choose. This is great if you want to apply a certain look or color correction to your exported footage in one step. Let’s say we have some interview footage that is too cool across the entire selection of clips. We can warm the clips up using the built-in Colorista 3-Way tool and export with that correction applied. The LUT feature allows you to apply any one of the included presets to your footage. You can even save and export your presets for use in other apps.
The refine section also allows you to add more specific metadata to your clips including presets you come up with. This metadata along with the markers, will export into most editing software programs.
We remember the time in which we would have to transcode footage to a Final Cut Pro friendly codec like ProRes. That was such a hassle and many folks still transcode their footage for various reasons. Here’s where BulletProof can provide an easy way to integrate that step into your workflow and save a considerable amount of time. The codecs supported for exports include various flavors of ProRes, PhotoJPEG, and H.264. Unfortunately the transcode options, like resolution and codec details, cannot be customized.
Once you select the clips you want to export you can choose from a list of export presets. There’s also the ability to append filenames with custom text, adjusted resolutions and codecs, and respect the in and out points set in the review section. One of our favorite features is the ability to export low resolution movies as proxies or dailies with the option to have visible timecode and the application of any color correction that you set up in the refined section. With one button we can export for full resolution transcode and simultaneously output low resolution movies for our client to review using the visible timecode.
When all is said and done, BulletProof from Red Giant is a badly needed data management tool that we can easily place into the workflow of every job we’re working on. When you consider the time savings in using the presets for transcoding, the $199 price becomes a huge value. Installation is as easy as it comes and the learning curve is so small that even a sixth grade student could work as our digital imaging technician (not a bad idea come to think about it). The incredibly easy ability to import, organize, review, refine and export your media makes this a must-have.
Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6.8 (and later)
Processor: Mac Intel System
Demo Version: Watermark on output
- Easy workflow from camera to editing system
- Color grading, metadata, visible timecode optional on transcoded footage
- Presets for most functions
- Multiple output formats in one step
- Limited camera compatibility
- No export of playlist as an EDL or XML
- No customization of export resolutions or codecs
Red Giant BulletProof is an amazing tool to simplify digital asset management but ripe for improvement in a few areas. Highly valuable even in its 1.0 version.
Steve Taylor is a freelance editor and motion graphics artist in the LA area working with corporate and non-profit clients around the world. He also presents and taught for Adobe as a member of the Adobe Creative Professional program.